Buffalo - March 16, 2015 - In a season bereft of good news, the Sabres got a little bit of it over the weekend: forwards Patrick Kaleta and Zemgus Girgensons, both thought to be lost for the season, could return before all is said and done.
Kaleta has been recovering from surgery to repair a lower-body injury since February 15th while Girgensons hasn’t seen the ice since blocking a shot off his foot in a February 24th win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Ted Nolan had this to say:
On the possibility of Patrick Kaleta returning before season’s end:
"If there’s one of them [to return], that’s a guy you’d bet on. He’s come through some tough injuries and he’s battled hard to work himself back in there. That’s one guy I wouldn’t question or Girgensons, either."
On ruling Zemgus Girgensons out for the year:
"I haven’t ruled him out yet. I saw him this morning and it looks like he gained some weight and he looks healthy. So we’ll see what happens in the next little while."
On the surface, this sounds like good news and I’m sure the team would love to have any healthy NHL bodies in the lineup. But there is a real decision to be made here about whether or not to return them to the lineup.
Obviously, the biggest issue revolves around June’s draft. The Sabres have done everything in their power to insure that they land one of the top two picks. In this tight race to the bottom with the Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes, do they really want to bring someone like Girgensons back when he could potentially make a difference?
The other side of the coin revolves around the health of the individuals. Kaleta has been dealing with injuries for years and if the team sees him as a part of the future, they might not want to rush him back. Letting him take the time off, work out and get healthy could mean a strong return next year. The same goes double for Girgensons, who might not have the injury history of his counterpart, but is a far bigger building block in the future of the Sabres. Not to mention the fact that many consider him to be captain material and the team being down a leader isn’t something they want for the long-term.
Ultimately, it will be up to Nolan and he’ll have to use his best judgment on whether or not to return the two before the season ends. Whatever the decision may be, let’s just hope it’s in the best interests of the Sabres long-term.